Thursday, April 11, 2019

My social network

A short story by
Alessandro Ghebreigziabiher

A tale from the future, or the present too. It always depends on where you choose to travel with your own imagination...

That’s peace, that’s what I called serenity.
All thanks to the new world where I was born.
To be honest, to those who designed, implemented and sold it.
I've got peace, now.
Especially tonight, this early spring’ Saturday, under the shelter of my beloved apartment, my very thick walls, the surgically armored front door and all the fabulous double glazing windows.
May the sacred operating system, which controls all of us, bless them.
I’m calm, finally, because my diligent voice assistant just told me that I have no other option available, since I have reached the maximum level of quiet within the social media.
I've always called it my social network, despite it has become a colossal spider web as big as the planet itself.
Yes, I know. It sounds disturbing. It looks like the work of an evil creature who longs to trap the naive people of the earth, unaware of being destined to become food for the monster. But these are delusions from conspiracy maniacs, who never disappear, unfortunately.
It's not my case.
I learned the lesson. It took me a while like everyone else, but finally I recognized and profited from the advantages of the digital relationship.
Three among the many: first, nobody forces us to disagree. Second, nobody forces us to listen to other people's dissent. Third, no one can agree with our thinking better than ourselves.
On the other hand it’s the system itself, with its cookies and the incessant collection of our data, that pushes us to connect only with those who think like us.
I still remember when I started this slow but inexorable journey towards the goal I just reached.

It was after the umpteenth discussion with Mark91.
By the way, we’ve been friends for more than thirty years and it’s only for that I had not yet blocked him, but he had no better hobby than contradict my statements.
Friends... I never even met him, actually. I only know that he is passionate about fishing, that he was born in 1991, or at least I believe so for his name, and that he has the face of Snoopy. I’m not saying that he looks like the latter, right? I mean that he has always shown exactly the famous cartoon character as avatar, that’s all.
On the other hand, today friendship and any other type of relationship are just these. With the freezing cold outside, who wants to put the nose out?
Well, he was the first that I kicked out from the list.
I still remember the words, which then became a sort of daily refrain: "Lisa - my voice assistant is called like my late mother - delete Mark91 from the friends list."
It was only the beginning of a real carnage.
"Lisa, get rid of all those who stutter."
Listen, I can't stand them. Someone could bring up the fact that the guy who my ex-wife betrayed me was a heavy stutterer, but I didn't want to go into it, okay?
Peace and serenity were my priorities and I wasn’t afraid of cutting off every annoying branch.
"Lisa", I continued, "exclude from the list all those taller than myself."
"Both males, females and others?".
Affirmative, I said. The comparison with other people in a position of inferiority makes me uncomfortable.
"Lisa, expel all vegetarian and environmentalist people in general."
I mean, the glaciation has now arrived. I couldn't stand greens and energy-saving fanatics before, let alone now.
In any case, I went on like this for days, it took me almost two months, but in the end I managed to eradicate from my friendly archive all the persons who could in any way cause me the slightest irritation.
From those with too long hair to those who comment with too many hearts, from those who never offer a like on what I say to those who never reply a private message, from those who boast themselves with tons of photos of their fantastic journeys in wonderful places to those who have all the time in the world to share their thoughts, but not even a second to read yours, etc.
And you have no idea how vast the last etcetera might be.
That's why, a little while ago, Lisa told me the extraordinary news.
"Congratulations," she exclaimed with a digital but radiant voice’s tone. "You have just risen to the social level called nirvana."
"What do you mean, Lisa?" I asked excitedly.
"You have reached the dimension of absolute calm."
"You entered the elite realm of hermits."
"Lisa... can you explain better?"
"You cleared the friends list, dude."
Oops, I muttered, going down to the couch. I've done it.
Now I have the absolute certainty that, whenever I connect, nobody will be able to interfere in any way with my peace and my serenity.
I can finally say, without fear of denial, that I’m on my social network.
Am I right?
Do you agree?
Is anybody out there?
Please don't leave me alone...
Lisa? Are you there, at least you?
I haven't canceled you yet, have I?

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Thursday, April 4, 2019

Who are the others?

Stories and News No. 1164
While I scroll among newspaper articles and social delusions disguised as blogs and informative pages I’ve got the same feeling that these days is often inside myself and it's not a good one.
Confining to the popular and most widespread news, I have the impression of seeing and reviewing, reading and rereading, stuff already seen and read, but which are repeated cyclically each time in a more grotesque and pathetic version.
It’s surprising only in that, as if the entire world were trapped in a kind of loop that every time brings us back to the starting point.
Then, in addition to the restlessness that all this entails, I am overcome by the fear of finding myself an integral part of this show that has long since expired.
Perhaps by writing something that I have already written, with the same words, but deprived of the precious originality.
Nevertheless, I cannot help but notice, at this very moment, how obvious in my humble opinion is the enormous blunder that blinds us all, more or less.
This deceptive glow has convinced us that we have understood who the others are, who have now become the ideal enemies against which to build every strategy for the present as well as the future.
Yet, day after day I’m more convinced that who we call the others are what they’re not.

The others is not just a word.
They’re not a population, they’re not a nation and neither an ethnic group.
The others cannot be photos of men arrested on a newspaper or even all the people in the world who claim to believe in the same god they believe.
The others are not the profile pictures on internet.


The others are not random guys who scream absurdity in a video, however it might be seen and shared.
The others are not what some people plot for you and everyone else.
Similarly, the others are not a few dozen people aboard a ship that most of us will never meet for as long as we have left.
The others are not and will never be all those beyond a wall.
The others are not just a seemingly wrong color.
The others are not a language incomprehensible to you.
The others are not even the affection for a food of unusual taste.
Because the others, luckily, are not the protagonist of a joke of bad taste and vulgar intentions.
They’re not the sacrificial victims of a lie disguised as an electoral plan.
They’re not the ones you have learned to fear and oppose only by crossing their gaze, perhaps sitting behind the wheel in the shelter of your car, or in a crowded subway train asking for as much protection on a mobile phone screen.
For the same reason, the others are not how they are represented in the usual, bad movie or yet another superficial book, despite the illustrious awards for the former and the lying binders for the latter.
They are not something you can judge and condemn in a few seconds just because you have been asked to do it by those who promised you that you will feel better later.
Since the others are not a collection of letters, although it has entered everyone's vocabulary.
They’re not just names, let alone all the ways you were taught to call them.
It seems trivial to point out, but the others cannot be the instruments to define millions of people, generations of lives already lived or only at the beginning of the journey, as much as entire continents that you have only seen on a documentary.
The others are not all that, here is what we should repeat ourselves incessantly every time we read and reread, we see and see again the horrible design in which some people would like to imprison us forever.
Because I’m more than ever convinced that others could be everyone of us, without exception. You, he, she and, of course, the others. At this moment, I am too one of them, but even if you’ve read these words thoroughly – of which I thank you from the bottom of my heart, most of you don’t know me personally and it’s mutual.
Nevertheless, “personally” is a wonderful word, don't you think?

As much as we could fill our social network’s home and our head too, our posts and speeches, of faces and words that only apparently are familiar to us, it still remains the only way to understand who the others are...

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Defense is always legitimate?

Stories and News No. 1163
Let's say I'm a person like many others.
Many more than the ones counted inside the storytelling that pleases and, above all, has got the task of being liked.
Hence, don’t focus on someone in particular, but take these words as the heartfelt message that could come out from a complex and ever more rich variety of humans, distinguished by their heterogeneity.
Let’s imagine, in this regard, that I’m hurriedly considered a different creature or, superficially, part of a minority. Equally guilty seen as negligible value and absentmindedly moved towards the perennial role of subordinate appearance.
I could therefore be, trivially, a desperate immigrant or perhaps simply a clandestine, a repeatedly maltreated woman or an individual with an unfairly criminalized sexuality, an abused child in the silence of a condominium or a forgotten elder, but those in need and therefore uncomfortable, and others.
Yet today, I am a happy person and at the same time confused, because, looking through the news, I feel exultation by reading that from today the defense will be always legitimate in Italy.
Understandable, isn't it?
Heaven, or whoever, is a witness to us about how much we others need to defend ourselves...
Nevertheless, wishing to further investigate the topic, I learn that this suggestive title is due to the fact that the Italy Senate has definitively approved the reform on legitimate defense.

Thus, here is the aforementioned perplexity, which assails me, reading the name of the party that has strongly committed itself to having this law approved. I am referring to the far-right League, of course, and pronouncing the word still troubles me.
However, I try not to let myself be influenced by the emotions, and I continue to shed light on what happened, focusing on the words of the vice minister Matteo Salvini: “After years of chatter and controversy, the sacrosanct right to self-defense for those attacked at home was approved. We don’t distribute weapons, we don’t legitimize the Far West but we stand with decent citizens.”
If I didn't know who he is, I could even put the loss aside, and concentrate on the facts, striving to believe blindly in Salvini's words.
It would be enough for me to take them literally. On the other hand, he expresses himself in the official guise, since he has sworn on it and he’s richly paid for that.
Thus, I repeat in my head, first, and then aloud the essence of the fundamental change that also concerns us: the sacrosanct right to self-defense has been sanctioned for those attacked at home.
Well, guys, I want to trust the man.
I really believe that, perhaps, I should change my mind about him.
He said he didn’t push this law because, along with his peers, he signed a pact with the arms lobbies, but because he is on the side of decent citizens.
Well... at this point my confusion becomes inescapable, stifling the enthusiasm of a few moments ago.
The fact is that people like us are daily attacked, in their own homes or outside, without distinction, in most of the cases by so-called decent citizens.
Both physically and verbally, we are assailed at every moment – and I’m sure it’s happening even now... - with violence and arrogance, hatred and indifference, injustice and inhumanity, ignorance and even intolerance, yes it is.
Often, even by the aforementioned minister Salvini and his associates, for decades, not just yesterday.
So, in conclusion, I must confess that contentment and confusion are at this point swept away by a faint hope, despite being weighed down by a growing sense of anguish: that this latest change in the rules that our government has introduced is really not aimed at encouraging the weapons’ sale.
Because it would be really dangerous if all the people who feel attacked and upset convince themselves that they can legitimately defend themselves by buying and above all using a gun or a rifle. And that they might do it more easily and even without paying the consequences.
Because, in my humble opinion, voters and supporters of this law have not the faintest idea who they are, how many they are and what are the conditions of instability they live in...

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

We invaded you

Stories and News No. 1162
In Italy a 13 years old boy save himself and the other students on a school bus hijacked from the driver calling help with his cell phone.

We invaded you.
Yes, it's true, I mean it.
It’s useless to deny it: we invaded you.
In countless ways, we did it.
Like "the attacker" and "the hero", the former armed with petrol cans and the latter with a phone, with which to call the police, if necessary. And sheltered by such popular masks, made so by the rumor of newspapers, here are the only features that serve the intended storytelling: "the bad immigrant" and "the good one".
But also the "Islamic terrorist" and the "brave citizen", despite according to the law the latter is still nothing more than a foreigner.
It matters something to know that for the man Islamic terrorism is excluded. But, if this "something" becomes little for the majority of people, why ask further questions?
Because what is now indelible, and must remain so the next day, is what we have done in very suspicious times: we invaded you, remember?
Then, let's not forget our origins: we’re "the Senegalese guy" and "the Egyptian kid".
Because our skin speaks for us, and we should scream at the top of our lungs to overwhelm the din, without getting to seize a bus to get that. Also because we would do nothing but increase the blaring where we have fallen, willy-nilly.
Yet, in tragic situations like these, the distinctions that should always make the difference come out, if you forgive the trivial repetition.
Even where life itself is at stake, or perhaps precisely in those moments, the role assigned by social rules could be experienced in the opposite way.
"The driver" and "the student" take different paths, and it happens more often than you imagine.
The one who should accompany the youngest to the place that will hopefully help them grow, suddenly takes the wrong direction and points towards the ravine beyond which his own mad sadness sinks.
At the same time, in order to face him, as if completing a sort of allegorical equation, the pupil removes his usual ordinance dress and relies on the true wealth that distinguishes all the populations to which he is often associated. What for ever and ever is one of the main prerogatives that makes us human. Read also as the tenacious, moving and irrepressible desire to survive.
We both often forget who we should be on this journey. It happens every day, anywhere, to anyone. And, from one moment to another, we become what we are.
That’s how something transpires, after the smoke of the click baiting titles and the catching "social networks likes" screams thins out.
This is the way by which we also become names, as well as the rest.
Ousseynou and Ramy.
In spite of this, if we add our faces as well, the inevitable subtext would be inviolate.

We have invaded you. And nothing of what has been said so far could affect this concept, set in the common memory of an entire country like the imprints of Hollywood movie stars. Made famous by the memory of the hands and the name, where in our case, instead of the former ones, there are the signs of the skin made guilty by definition.
Because that's how we did it.
It’s undoubted, it has already done, it’s happening even now, at this very moment, and it will certainly not end today.
No need to ignore it. Indeed, it’s even wrong to do so.
It’s a story that must be listened to and told, but to the end, once and for all.
Because we have invaded you, of course.
But not really us, you see?
Certainly not "the man" and "the boy", what we really are out there, beyond this screen, one in prison and the other luckily at home with his loved ones.
What entered with violence and hatred in your lives were just words, lots of words, infamous and inhuman words.
The ones that normally represent us, that’s what is attacking us all.
Now you know who you should expel, against whom you should raise walls and who really puts your peace and ours at risk.
Fortunately, you and us are something else and much more than a collection of letters.
Maybe it wouldn't hurt to meet in person sometimes...

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Nobody dies anymore

Stories and News No. 1161
Antonio Tajani, one of our fellow citizen who currently holds the role of president of the European Parliament, has recently spoke about Mussolini, arousing strong criticism also internationally, with a classic refrain typical of the more nostalgic far-right: the man has also done good things (bridges, roads, and so on).
This suggests me a story about Italy...

Once upon a time there was an old country.
I’m saying very old.
Indeed, a lot more. I mean extraordinarily so.
The exceptionally old country had got this particular nature from its inhabitants.
By that, I should have started the story by reciting: once upon a time there was an old country inhabited by old people. However, the qualifying adjective would have been redundant, and so I started from the place to point out those who live there, that's all.
I am referring to the persons who are old, very old, so old that they cannot in any way separate themselves from the past, however unpleasant to mention it and shamefully to think about.
The reasons of such great affection for gone days, without ifs and without buts, were due to an equally ancient emotion, rendered practically eternal once transformed into a lasting feeling, which like an indestructible cancer inexorably corrupted every atom of souls and bodies: the fear of dying.
In this regard, running the risk of seeming further fussy, I would have had to begin by writing: once upon a time there was an old country inhabited by old people since they were irremediably afraid of dying, but in this way I would have lost most of the readers just in the very beginning, between those who don’t want to listen about death, or fear. Imagine if both are in the same sentence...
Nevertheless, in the aforementioned country, time passed indifferently as always before human vices, since only humanity itself can find a solution to them. And, as so often happens, destiny ended up fulfilling the dream of those who incessantly nurtured their nightmares. Because since the beginning of time, being on the right side of history doesn’t give you the victory, but how ardently you desire it and you’re willing to fight.
Thus, the day came when in the oldest country in the world, inhabited by decrepit people, as well as frightened by the impending exhaustion of their time, no one died anymore.
Disbelief and bewilderment spread everywhere, a typical reaction to an epochal change.
However, after the right time, each of the old inhabitants of the old country began to perceive in its own being the presence of a void of undefined measures, because it never stopped in its constant growth.
Like discovering that the horizon for which you ended up sacrificing every second of your life was solely the result of your imagination. Because what yesterday was everything, today it’s nothing, and a moment ago what was true, now is the biggest lie you've ever told yourself.
So, all of a sudden, if the story started now, we should begin with: once upon a time there was an old, infinitely old country. Then, in order to keep the viewers' attention high, so far entwined with the plot, we should move the spot on the protagonists, specifying that there was once an infinitely old country, inhabited by equally old people, but at this point we would have the obligation to reveal the already introduced improbable characteristic, the only one that motivates the invention of a story.
Otherwise, in the real world there are lots of extremely antiquated nations or cities, with particularly elderly inhabitants and terrified of everything. And maybe you live in one of them, who can say?
Anyway, no more talk, here is the updated incipit: once upon a time there was an old country, inhabited by people who would have been old forever, because from one moment to the other they stopped dying. Consequently, shortly thereafter, they no longer feared death.
The beauty in the unexpected aspect of this absurd plot resides on what happened in the following days.
It was wonderful to witness it.
Above all, being in the shoes of the others, those who lived in the old town, next to the inhabitants who were forever old, but who weren’t old at all.
Because the disappearance of the fear of death fueled by an entire people was like the fall of a colossal, rotten and putrid tree, to say the least, malodorous and poisonous, whose branches had just as bad and no less polluting, hanging fruits.

In fact, the mother of all concerns, since had settled in their lives, had generated an incalculable number of so many other fears, composed of the same spoiled meat.
The fear of what appears to be different and what has the presumed guilt, rather than the undisputed fortune, of being born beyond the confines of your malaise.
The fear of everything that represents tomorrow, that is young or new, that sounds like revolutionary, or alternative.
The fear of the moment in which the genres and identities abused and violated in the past as if it were the present, and vice versa, are even more proud and bright than ever.
The fear, in short, of everything that means what you have lost and forgotten.
Existing now, here.
Therefore, if someday it will come true, may be blessed the moment when no one will die anymore.
Because, at the same time, it will mean that those we call ‘the others’ will finally be free.
To live...

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Thursday, March 7, 2019

The perfect social network

Stories and News No. 1160
According to a recent Italian research conducted on nearly 6000 under 20 young people about 1 in 4 of the interviewees never worried about the privacy of their data online and, almost as many, they are occasionally interested on that. In addition, more than 7 out of 10 teenagers joined a social network when they were under 14 and 4 out of 10 know only half of their so-called 'friends'.

My name is Mark, but I may have lied. I could also be Jennifer, or Carl.
Okay, okay, a possible lie is certainly not a good start, building everything else on that. However, I wouldn’t be the first, right?
In any case, my name is Mark and I am a person, period.
So far, nothing special, everything normal, almost like reality. Well, that ‘almost’ is what makes me awake at night.
So, I found the solution to all my problems.
I don’t tell you names, but I’m talking about a social network, that one.
You know it, right?
Well, I used my picture editor like a real magician and I showed a superfine care in describing myself with a handful of words, like the lords of the most effective synthesis.
Let's say rather him, that is me, or the version I want to make visible and directly related to... me, exactly. Everything returns to me, at the end of the fair, indeed, it should.
So, then I worked hard to connect with my social buddies.
To connect...

To link the dot that represents me with those who in turn identify the people who I wanted or agreed to connect with.
Is that okay? Wow, you’re so fussy, and curious too, because not even a year later something that should not have manifested has invaded the frame that concerns me.
Thus, I can no longer deny it.
My name is, perhaps, Mark, I am therefore a person, although not even that is sure, but I am certainly very touchy.
Okay, okay, common stuff, nothing extraordinary, but it's an uncovered nerve in my case, and when they have given me the power to decide what to reveal and what not, why should I let my faults be public?
Nonetheless, in the social network, that one, I have now burnt all. So, I reset everything, I’ve learned from the previous mistakes, and I joined the other one.
You see what I’m talking about, right? It's better, you know? Because it's simpler, come on, and there aren’t those trolls that infest the previous one.
It seems true, said like that...
In any case, with a renewed profile, I’ve got a new digital life.
With maniacal precision I chose an avatar that was not in any way comparable to the old one, a nickname that was quite trendy, and an attractive presentation for the modern relationship market.
Yes, I see, this makes us all like products lined up on the shelves of a supermarket. But what's the problem? I could not wait to be virally bought, if this was the way to feel popular as I have always dreamed of.
Nonetheless, the nasty surprise, like the expiration date of the goods to which I have just compared us, it came out punctually from the virtual carpet.
Okay, okay, I'm still Mark, or maybe I still pretend it's my name, I should be a person until proven otherwise, they caught me on the fact in my chronic touchiness, but suddenly they also discovered me as a first-class whiner.
To make it clear, the first tears appear on the threshold of my eyes with an incredible ease.
How did I do it...
Yet I studied lots of editing tutorial videos. Believe me, I was sure to have cut off the end of the clip with which I expressed my condolences for that kitten who died alone at its home; every newspapers have spoken about it.
Nevertheless, it’s good to share a passionate and heartwarming speech in solidarity with the little creature, and it’s not to explode immediately after in a sob like a child in a hysterical crisis.
Obviously, despite just a couple of hours after the publication I erased the evidence of my unaware epic fail, it was too late, since the video had already been downloaded and shared everywhere.
The following months were terrible. I closed myself at home and I lived like an outcast vampire, going out only late at night for some essential shopping.
However, I had to react, I knew it, and that heaven bless internet and all the chances it offers to creatures exiled from the realm of bits.
So, in the meantime I let my beard grow and I shaved completely. So, I looked in the mirror and I said to myself: you’re ready to get back on track. That is, on a social network.
I’m talking about the new one.
You know it, right? Don’t? Well, you’re old, then, because in a few years it will overcome them all.
With the now acquired professional competence I uploaded an indecipherable and fascinating image and I have introduced myself with a couple of sentences capable of catching the attention of the dead too, really.
Okay, okay, I’m boasting myself, but you always need a lot of excitement to start over.
They were happy days, those ones.
That is... they were for the new digital projection through which I began to interact with other compound reflections of the same substance.
Then, however, the usual curse hit where it hurts the most.
And where does it? Here, on the chest where at this precise moment I’m putting the finger to, in spite of nothing hurts there, on the hopefully painless planet.
I didn’t want to... and also that time it was the finger, or maybe what moved it.
Read the latter as the unfulfilled desire to share my secret weaknesses.
How I wish I had not pressed the button to join that damn group, with an unequivocal title: ‘Those who sleep with the light on in the room because they are afraid of the dark.
If they knew that in my case, the one on the corridor and even the light in the bathroom should be counted, even if they’re low consumption kind.
So, I found myself with the following information publicly disgraced and put one after the other: my name is Mario, yes, I am a person, I confess. And I'm touchy, whiny and a coward.
Nevertheless, I absorbed the blow again, but I didn’t give up, because as long as there is internet there is hope.
I am willing to cross the entire World Wide Web in search of the perfect social network.
There must be somewhere the one that will help me for ever to hide who I really am...

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Rights expired

Stories and News No. 1159
Indulge me.
Yes please. Treat me as one of those frail and vulnerable people, who more or less consciously require condescension from others.
On the other hand, the utopian hope of both, storyteller or simply creature with the a seriously compromised sense of reality, is the same: that the journey, or its conclusion, is worth of your time, if not the ticket’s price.
The starting point from which the following dream was born is a fact, like the true news where I usually draw inspiration writing a story, and it precisely concerns the possible diffusion of the latter as a literary work.
In this regard, as many know, sooner or later the author's right to his own creation will end.

From that moment, the story, the words that compose it, the following moral and the characters which contribute to it, become instantly public.
Suddenly, everything belongs to everyone.
Insist to indulge me, then.
Even if at this point you knew where I’m willing to go, pretend to be distracted by the childish ingenuity from which once again I confess to be suffering.
Let's say that, further consequence of the aforementioned symbolic expiration, something similar happens within the story itself.
Imagine what might happen to the protagonists of a life already written by their creator.
I invite you to do it now with the stories that you loved the most, because I could not help but imagine how much joy exploded in Cyrano de Bergerac’s heart on the fateful distance from the disappearance of his literary father, Edmond Rostand.
The formidable swordsman, as well as superfine rhymer, finally freed from the slavery of the ever usual plot, experienced and relived every time in the reader’s eyes and mind, with the inevitable and tragic horizon, on the new day, master of his own destiny, he will reveal his love to Roxane. Besides leaving the honest and loyal Christian to play his own cards without his friend’s help. The girl herself will choose between the young man’s beauty or the captain’s poetry.
Yes, I know, it's an implausible design, it’s infantile stuff. Like believing that toys, as in the famous animation movie, when kids go out, decide to come to life, transforming the bedroom into their personal world.
Anyway, continue to indulge me, please.
I know it's easy to figure out where I'm trying to lead you.
In the meantime, I voluntarily lower my eyelids and, as if might be visible to the naked eye, I observe what happens in the wonderful town of Oz at the end of the rights that imprison the latter to a forced course. I see the moment when it's up to Dorothy to fulfill her wish, after the scarecrow and her fantastic friends have done the same.
I know, the girl likes the idea of going back to Kansas, where her house and family are. The fact is that this has already happened an incalculable number of times, repeating the same inexorable choice to the bitter end, and in favor of the sovereign reader as much as the author himself.
Well, once free, she forgets the red shoes, and so the invisible chains of a magic written by someone else that is not her.
Some may consider their home the most beautiful place to be, but it will be there even when she’ll return. At the same time, the incredible place where she has flown still has wonders to show and if there is one thing that Dorothy has learned over the years it’s that they become infinitely more when you are guided by your own personal imagination.
Of course, I am aware of the weakness inherent in this shameless gamble. Nonetheless, I won’t tire of repeating it, I humbly ask you to indulge my bizarre theory for a moment, although many of you will see an instrumental manipulation to accompany the reader to a predictable conclusion.
Meanwhile, I take one of the first classics I read as a kid, The Three Musketeers, and since the rights on the heroic protagonists are expired long ago, I open it and reread it, indeed, I see the whole story for the first time woven in a plot perhaps less adventurous, more banal, and not very animated, but certainly more pleasant for the poor Constance, the girl loved by D'Artagnan, for whom she has the same feeling, despite being already married. The woman was condemned by Dumas to the same destiny as many others in lots of novels: sacrificed helping the reader to define in his own imagination the classic contours of a tormented, suffering hero, and for this reason he is further devoted to his mission. But as much as I loved the original version, in the anarchist one I admire now D'Artagnan manages to save Constance from Milady's poison. So, with her and for her, he turns his back on the King and his friends musketeers. “By the way, you’re already three,” I seem to hear him saying in the farewell speech, “therefore, the title is respected.” And they lived happily ever after, in any case. Indeed, no, at least as far as Constance is concerned, much more.
Okay, I give up. These are rantings of little meaning, which can hardly be authoritative in the face of works that have earned eternal hospitality in the library of novels of universal value.
However, where you have supported me so far, do it for a last chance, and imagine us all as the protagonists of a story, which often, especially today, takes horrible roads, despite the fact that they have already been crossed several times.
Yet, we too have had our moment of liberation from the nightmare of a very troubled present and a far darker ending.
The final chapter of the human novel has seen the end between 8 May and 2 September 1945, the day the curtain fell on the second world war.
Therefore, most of the authors of that terrifying book disappeared long ago, and with them the madness of one race over the others, the inhumane confinement of creatures unjustly considered guilty of diversity and the cruel isolation of members of the society unduly marked as undesirable.
We are not obliged to continue to relive this plot.
We are free not to be the monsters of the past.
We have inherited the power to move on the right side of history.
In this regard, don’t indulge me anymore.
Just trust me on this.

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Thursday, February 21, 2019

All for a kiss

Stories and News No. 1158
On February 18, 2019 George Mendonsa, or Mendonça, died. He was ninety-five years old and became famous for a photo, but above all for a kiss. A stolen one, literally.
According to the chronicles of the time, on August 14, 1945 George was in New York and he was watching a movie at the well-known Radio City Music Hall. He was with Rita, the woman who would later become his wife, when some people entered the hall and began shouting words that everyone in the world was waiting with anxiety and hope.
The war is over.
A marvelous phrase, a forbidden dream for entire generations struck by a bitter destiny and whispered to the utmost almost every day by those who are obliged by History to consider peace only a coveted horizon, instead of the natural condition.
Besides there are conflicts and battles of all kinds, in this world, whose soundtrack is not necessarily composed of mortar shots and machine guns’ bursts.
Anyway, George ran out with Rita, and began to cheer like a madman, as everyone else.
He was a sailor, a crew member of a warship called USS The Sullivans (DD-537).
Also for this reason, the exceptional news made him lose his mind.
So, between the shouts and the confusion, wandering the streets of the Big Apple, he forgot about Lisa and suddenly came across Greta Zimmer.
The latter was twenty one years old. She was born in 1924 in Austria, from a Jewish family. In 1939, therefore at the age of fifteen, she was forced to flee her country at that time controlled by the Nazis, along her two younger sisters. Their parents never managed to escape and died in a concentration camp.
At the time of the so-called V-J Day, when Japan surrendered, Greta worked as a dentist's assistant.
As soon as she learned the big news, like so many she went down the street to celebrate, still wearing her white work coat.
That's why George mistook her for a nurse. And that's why as such she became popular in the equally famous picture.
The sailor approached, took her in his arms and gave her a kiss.
Thus, the photo became history.

You know? I like to image our common life told and witnessed by photographs that fill a gigantic album, which sooner or later we will be able to derive the general story from. It may be incomplete, of course, because much is lost beyond the limits of a camera lens, modern or not.
For this reason, I am convinced that in that precious collection there aren’t only the photos actually taken, but also other images, equally important, no less significant and very important to understand what happened then and, above all, what is happening today.
Then, I look at the photo of the sailor kissing the alleged nurse, but then I close my eyes and I see more.
I see another photo, in which the girl stops the man and refuses the kiss, resolutely convinced that she has to decide who to share her lips and when.
In yet another she is taking the sailor in her arms and she is kissing him, reversing the weights of a storytelling that still insists on showing us love from a single and arrogant side.
Below, I see further scenes, in other days and different places, but all around the famous topic, which seems to say to those like myself: I challenge you to stand comparison with reality.
Well, I see right now other suggestive photos that in my humble opinion deserve the eye of the most.
Among all, the embrace of a volunteer to a migrant child, where the latter word should make the first totally useless as inappropriate. The kid has overcome the sea and the fear of not survive the trip.
In the image the girl kisses him on his forehead, so the official script is respected.
It is more than ever in the sentence that acts as a caption to the whole, drawing inspiration from what the child thinks and feels exactly at that moment.
The war is over, that is, I'm at peace, I'm safe, I did it.
And so on, other invisible photos are added in my mind, of magical encounters, between those who celebrate a happy moment and those who try to forget all those who preceded it.
These are also moments to remember, this is History too, the one an incalculable number of people, who are a fundamental part of it, have rejoiced and still do today, despite for a few seconds.
All for a kiss...

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Friday, February 15, 2019

News like uncompleted fairy tales

Stories and News No. 1157
Once upon a time.
Everything starts like this, from fairy tales to our own life.
Which in the early days is wonderfully slow, with small hands and eyes made wide by curiosity for everything, regardless of the flowing time, at least until it comes to knock on our door demanding an early growth.
Sometimes it’s an obligation that tastes of pain and unbridgeable voids. Often, it’s just the need to take the responsibilities that someone else have guiltily left us as inheritance.
Nonetheless, from your official entry into the world of the so-called adults, the haste becomes master of your life.
There is no time, there is no more, it never was, until you are convinced that it has always been like that, from the very beginning.
Nevertheless, as an adult you are formally invited to be aware of what’s happening beyond your nose.
Well, where do adults find information about the things of the world?
Long ago there was only the TV News, as a solo voice to tell the so-called facts of the day, along with the newspapers.
Thanks to the advent of Internet, much has changed. Above all, it allowed the actuality’s tellers to be many more. Some came from above, lots from below, as much as the most extreme points of thought and perceiving reality.
That it was good, this is undoubted, because plurality means enrichment for everybody.
What has remained the same, however, in many Western and old countries, it’s the way we read the news.
It has been said, more on, and it doesn’t hurt to repeat it: there is no time and there has never been, in our memory, and because of the haste, never our superficiality, we will only take what we want to hear.
This leads us, paradoxically, when the story began.
Once upon a time.
As in fairy tales, which children had all the time in the world for.
However, as adults, everything stops shortly beyond the title, with at most a quick look at the summary.
An ocean of news articles read as shreds of stories deprived of the fundamental plot, which in the last twenty years have formed and calcified the public opinion of an entire generation.
So, we started to lose the best of each story, reading the news like uncompleted fairy tales.
Well, imagine one of the most famous among the latter as the headlines of a news magazine.

Little Red Riding Hood would become “Wolf eats girl child and her grandmother”, pointing the target on the ferocious animal, or “Hunter kills wolf and finds in the belly two people still alive”, using the usual clickbait with the video that resumes the belly’s incision.
Read it as the evil beast, but for the most, the bad wolf.
Inevitably, the article would focus on the latter, and on the danger due to its species. Because, once slammed the usual monster on the front page, automatically all the wolves would become bad, especially in the eyes of the most careless of readers. Only a few of them would be interested in the actual affair in detail. And we already know the consequences of the popularity of the fact in its most striking aspects.
For months, years, to the bitter end, journalists and columnists, TV hosts and influencers, but also Youtubers and VIPs, obviously politicians or normal people who aspire to popularity at any price, would begin to daily devote themselves to the problem of bad wolves in our countries.
Social pages would come up like mushrooms to defend the brave little girls, but also sheep, chickens and hens, threatened by the vile ferocious beast.
At the same time, the sale of shotguns and the propulsion to create brave patrols of poachers would exponentially increase.
Not to mention the experts in the various talk shows that will dwell on the mellifluous and perfidious nature of a creature capable of posing as a poor old grandma to feed on her nephew.
Needless to say, that would be just a matter of time, before someone almost exclusively based their political party's program on the war against the evil wolves that infest our woods.
What a pity.
What a great misfortune, this rush.
What a serious mistake, it’s having not the opportunity to read the whole story.
How many fundamental questions could arise, to nurture the intellect and open the mind.
For example, wondering why the mother of such a small child, who should be aware of the risks, decides instead to let her go alone in the woods.
Where is the father, when needed, would be the second inescapable question.
Then we might ask ourselves about an aspect of crucial importance: why do we call bad a creature that, as a predator, does nothing but satisfy its natural need for food?
Until an observation that every child, still protected from the anxiety of age, would be able to do.
In the fable we talk about a wolf, just one, nor a pack, let alone all the wolves in the world.
Instead, there is no time, there is no more, and because the hurry and especially our frivolity, we have deprived the tales and today's representation of a moral which to get precious teaching from.

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Marionettes and spectators

Stories and News No. 1156
So, let's start from here.
Imagine that Giuseppe Conte was a great statesman, he was the Prime Minister elected for his skills and merits, that he authoritatively leaded a two-colored government formed by Luigi Di Maio’s Five Star Movement and Matteo Salvini’s League, who respected the man and relied on his competent and wise leadership. Thanks to the three, Italy was living a brilliant phase of its economic, cultural and social growth.
Well... if you think so, stop here, I understand. I mean, no, I don’t really have any idea of what whirls in your mind, but I don’t think you'll easily agree with the following.
From this point on, then, let's say that Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe at the European Parliament, is right about what he recently said about Italian premier and the current government.
Let’s consider his accusations reasonable, that Conte is a puppet in the hands of Di Maio and Salvini.
Therefore, according to this thesis, the Italy Premier is a man who accepted his position knowing that, once he took his oath, he would put himself at the service of the other two, following their will, promptly following what both demand.
I mean, like a mother who spoils her two children, undergoing their arrogance, satisfying their whims and enduring their continuous and selfish quarrels, to the detriment of their education. Like a president put in charge of the umpteenth poor country, but with the ground rich of oil, by the nth foreign power. Is it not clear? Like the Bounty’s boatswain who mistreated the sailors and especially the hubs proving to be loyal to Captain Bligh and his cruel management of the crew.
Do you like it? No? Okay, okay. I will be short, then: like a marionette, which, with more or less invisible threads, is maneuvered from above.

So, imagine the scene, like a fairy tale, or a stage play.
Once upon a time there was a marionette of flesh and blood, who, like the well-known wooden puppet, lied knowing he was lying, in his case about his autonomy to decide and lead an entire country.
The marionette of flesh and blood – if Verhofstadt is right, was nothing more than a puppet whose arms and legs, as well as of the mouth, with words and speeches, were driven by his masters.
The puppeteers, Di Maio and Salvini, were above the stage, suitably unseen.
Now, still following the Verhofstadt’s version of Conte and his government, what is lacking in this metaphorical theater is the audience.
In other words, the paying viewers.
Well, it's us, all of us, no one feels expelled from the hall, except the immigrants, given the recent Italian politics.
However, following the metaphor, the spectators are all those who pay with their own pocket, or with their own life, this childish staging. And if the highest price determines the best chair, then let's face it, come on, the more comfortable seats are intended for them, the migrants. Then young people and women, persons with health problems and all the marginalized and discriminated categories of our society.
That’s the fate of those who act as extras in the lucky few people’s dream: to be the protagonists of everyone's nightmare.
Here we are, then, all gathered, in front of the show that has been started for quite a while now.
The marionette talks and dances in an uncoordinated and confused style, sometimes because waiting for the command, others because the two occult directors quarrel with each other.
Yet, most of us assist in good order, some even praising and applauding the performance, even after paying the ticket, and not even having the alibi to not knowing that the actor on stage is a living marionette, but without life.
I leave you with questions that I consider as compelling as unavoidable.
If this is the actual reality in which we live today, what makes us remain seated without protest?
Why we endure, and we are happy with that?
But above all, why we are convinced that this is the best we can have?

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Do you need anything?

Do you need anything?

A short story by
Alessandro Ghebreigziabiher

We dream.
We often forget we did, but sometimes something survives in the morning.
Frequently it’s the most terrible nightmares to see the daylight, but even some beautiful dreams cross the threshold of consciousness and are the most vivid ones, despite improbable, with hints of reality that often is more tangible than what we actually touch every day with bare hands.
The same happens with some stories and at the end of the day you don’t know if you've dreamed, or just read a strange tale.
This is what occurred to Sam, eleven years and a rather vulnerable imagination before the castles in the air that surround us every day.
That Sunday he had spent most of the afternoon in the hospital to visit his grandmother, ninety years old and a destiny now marked by the usual, unforgiving tumor.
The good thing was that all her children, and most of the relatives, were close to her, to accompany her in the last part of her life.
In the evening, after having dinner and watched some TV with his parents, the little boy went to sleep, full of thoughts.
He turned off the bedside lamp, closed his eyes, and after a few moments he fell asleep.
The REM phase didn’t take long to go on stage, with the unconscious manager to lead his amazing theatrical company of memories and fantasies. Because, let's not forget, at eleven years dreams have such a power to create great shows, this is undoubted.
"Welcome, doctor," a young lady in white told him once the curtain of his brain had opened. She was so much like the nurse who was taking care of her grandmother. "I accompany you for your usual visit."
Sam accepted without discussing the role assigned by his psyche.
Because, let's not forget that too, at eleven the courage to get involved is also spectacular.

"This is a hospital, right?" He asked to be sure where he was.
"Sure, doc. We are in the ‘clinic of the contrary needs’. "
"And I'm the doctor."
"Sure, you're not an adult like our patients."
"Don’t we have children patients?"
"Doctor, are you kidding me? You and all the kids are the only ones who can treat those grown-ups."
Sam didn’t understand what the girl meant, but it was only a matter of time before he had it all clear.
"Come, let me meet our guests."
They entered a room, also very similar to the grandmother’s, where there was a guy in front of a computer who was talking about stock exchange and shares.
"As you well know, doctor," said the nurse, "here we treat the misunderstood needs. This man is convinced that it’s nature that needs us when it’s exactly the opposite. That's why he loses his time making money, instead of taking care of the environment."
The second patient was a guy who, with lime and bricks, was intent on pulling up walls after walls around him.
"This man believes that immigrants need him, ignoring that it’s exactly the contrary. Because humanity is just the one who knocks on your door. Without you’re like an endless desert, where mirages are all that will remain in your hands at your death."
The third patient, on the other hand, was a guy who had stuffed his head into a monitor, like a kind of diving helmet.
"He is the craziest one," said the girl, "because he is persuaded that he doesn’t need to listen to his neighbors, while the latter have this need. As if his voice is everything, and everything is the nothing that depends on it."
Another one swam in a bathtub full of cell phones, and he was the man who thought he needed a phone to meet others, neglecting the mocking reality.
"Which one?" Sam asked.
"Simple, doctor, you should know it better than me. He’s one of those men who are obsessed of needing objects, rather than the inverse. "
And so on, the journey continued in the clinic of contrary needs, where the adults were treated for their absurd contradictions.
So, at the end of the tour – and of the dream, he asked the most important question.
"Why am I the doctor?"
"Because only a child, who needs all the best that the adults might offer him, is able to remind them of the importance of welcoming the gifts of life and recognizing them if they are revealed."
Music, curtain closed, and sunlight through the window.
Sam lifted his eyelids and rushed to the kitchen, where his mother was preparing breakfast.
He approached her, he said good morning, the woman answered the greeting, and then the child whispered: "Mom..."
"Yes, Dear?"
"Tell me, do you need anything?"

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